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Anger Is a Gift: A Novel by Mark Oshiro

Anger Is a Gift: A Novel (edition 2019)

by Mark Oshiro (Author)

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209888,605 (4.19)5
Six years ago, Moss Jefferies' father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media's vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks. Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals in their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration. When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.… (more)
Title:Anger Is a Gift: A Novel
Authors:Mark Oshiro (Author)
Info:Tor Teen (2019), Edition: Reprint, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

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Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro


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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
"I've done what I can," Moss said.

Oh, wow. Despite the praise comparing it to The Hate U Give and Dear Martin, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect as I am notoriously bad at reading the book descriptions unless I specifically want to know something about it. Or at least bad at reading the whole thing, not just skimming it to get a hum about the book's plot.

But even if I had known, this book would've been a refreshing surprise. Because despite the heavy topics that make up most of the plot... it was a pleasure to get to know the characters. As someone who mostly has close friends who are also LGBT, it gets tiring to only read about those characters who are The Token LGBT Person in their friend group. My friends are a mix of childhood friends who also turned out to be LGBT or people I've met along the way, and that seems to be the same for Moss' friend group. I don't know. That was just nice.

I also loved how distinct the characters are; most interactions never make you feel like an interaction or a relation between characters is the way it is because it's just how it is, but it is that way because that's how the characters are. I feel like I'm not explaining it in a good way, but Oshiro manages to make the characters feel alive not only in their complexity but in their reactions with others, and how these differs from character to character.

I'm definitely 1) regretting I didn't buy this one instead of borrowing it and 2) looking forward to any future books by Mark Oshiro. ( )
  autisticluke | Nov 14, 2019 |
What if the dystopia were our actual lives? Welcome to 2019, friends! In the author's note, Oshiro says he originally intended this to be a science fiction trilogy, which explains a lot about the pacing... but honestly, the line between sci-fi dystopian horror and the real actual world of the urban police state are pretty damn blurred at this point.

This book is painful to read. Without spoiling anything, I think I need to be clear that it ups the ante on The Hate U Give, How It Went Down, and every other YA novel about police violence I've read in the last couple of years. It felt most akin to Little Brother, which the author cites as an influence. It's beautiful, and I think some of my strong 7th and 8th grade readers will connect with it powerfully, but I will want to make sure they have someone to talk with about it when they're done.

One of my favorite things about it is how it reads as a playbook for organizing and activism. Young people see what's going on in the world and are hungry to make a difference, so I'm grateful for books like this and Moxie that provide models. ( )
  SamMusher | Sep 7, 2019 |
Mark Oshiro’s “Anger is a Gift” allowed me to see race and class issues (along with police brutality and a myriad of other difficult topics) through the eyes of a young, gay, Black man. It offered no relief from the unrelenting persecution of the population by the school official, police officers, and leaders. With only the exception of a few teachers, the people in positions of authority are all portrayed as bad guys. In the best cases they were just clueless; in the worst cases they were outright hostile and violent.

Because a person’s perception is their reality, it does not matter why police, government, or school officials treat the community in these ways. This book gives absolutely no credence to actions of the school or the police. The students we meet in this book just want the chance to grow up. They want to go to college, have jobs, and families. That seems impossible when school is underfunded, students are treated as criminals, and peaceful protest are met with the violence of a riot or a war.

It is incredibly important for everyone hear this message.

I gave the book less than 5 stars (which the message deserves) for the following reasons.

Straying from realism to make a point: Some of the characters were too good and others too bad. Meaning, the author made them more like caricatures then real people. Moss, the narrator and protagonist, is just so polite, so thoughtful, too perfect... He asks his mom’s permission for everything (almost). He meets Javier’s mom and immediate offers to clean her dishes. Etc. And his mom, so accepting, so supportive, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, the school principal is practically the devil. Gleefully brining in riot police to stop a protest. Using unnecessary force to exert control.

The book made fun of people like me and that just seems unnecessary. There was a part where the characters are doing a mock NPR interview laughing at the possible listeners. That really stuck with me. I am reading your book, Mark Oshiro. I am trying to hear your experience of the world. I want to learn. I want to be an ally in making the world a better place. Do you want to mock me for that too?

I listened to the audiobook read by the author. With respect, I appreciate the opportunity to listen (since I have less time for reading.) I know that not all authors have publishers willing to pay for an audio production. At the same time, a skilled voice actor can differentiate characters in a way that makes it easier to follow the story. ( )
  sbecon | Jun 2, 2019 |
Moss is a black, gay teen living in Oakland, California. You don't really need much more than that to guess that life isn't easy for him, but then let's add that his father was murdered by the police, because of which Moss now suffers intense anxiety attacks when confronted with the cops or large crowds of protesters. And then his school - beat up and and derelict, with old or completely-missing equipment, books falling apart - decides that random locker searches and metal detectors at the doors are a necessity to keep the student body in check. Moss just wants a normal life, to explore his feelings for his new boyfriend, and to learn to feel comfortable in his own skin, but the world he lives in just doesn't seem to make any of that possible. This one is a doozy, folks. Honest and open and brutal, and it should be required reading for every high school kid in this country. ( )
  electrascaife | Apr 28, 2019 |
This book has trigger warnings for: police violence, graphic violence, character death (on and off the page), racism, homophobia and transphobia, ableism, and extremely effective depictions of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

And despite the violence, the brutal realism, and the heartbreak, this is also a hopeful book, because it's about learning, as the title says, that anger is a gift that allows for action. It took me a while to get into this book - contemporary fiction isn't usually my thing, nor is the sparse writing style - but I was drawn in by Moss and his friends. The characters in this book are excellent, fully fleshed out and realistic both in their diversity and in their struggles. Friends hurt each other, people mean well and screw up, people fight their enemies and their friends and their own minds. Although there's no solid victory here (as the author's note says, it just wouldn't be fair to have one), the fight itself is worthwhile and enough to celebrate.

Anger is a Gift is rough going, but it's an extremely valuable and timely book. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jan 5, 2019 |
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"Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced." James Baldwin
"Every moment is an ongoing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a change to change the world." Dolores Huerta
"For all mothers who fight for their sons."
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He saw the lights first.
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Moss Jeffries is many things - considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend, affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else - someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn't become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn't feel so stuck.

Moss can't even escape at school - he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oaklands High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. It feels sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something needs to change - but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realise that anger can actually be a gift.
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